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Be Careful When Hiring Household Help
The people you hire to work in and around your home -- as housekeepers, gardeners, child care workers, personal trainers, etc. -- can help make life much easier. But they also can pose a significant threat to your property and even to your personal safety, because they often have fairly unrestricted and unsupervised access to your home and property. Household staff members have stolen their employer's identity, their jewelry and, on rare occasion, their life.
So how do you protect yourself against this kind of danger? You can work through an agency that conducts background checks on potential employees and places them with clients. If you choose to go this route, make sure that the agency you are using is reliable. Ask for details on how long it has been in business and how many employees it has placed, and check references. Ask if the agency has insurance coverage in case the employees it places steal or damage anything in your home.
You also may want to check with friends to see if they can recommend someone. But whether you start with a recommendation or start from scratch, if you decide to go through the hiring process on your own, make sure you:
In a preliminary phone interview, ask candidates whether they can provide references and proof of citizenship. Be wary of people who seem uncomfortable doing so. And be sure to check all references.
Meet for interviews in a public place, rather than in your home. You might even want to bring along a trusted friend, for support and another opinion.
Plan your interview ahead of time, writing out questions about the applicant’s work history, experience, how the applicant has dealt with challenging situations. Be ready with a detailed description of the job you want done. Answer the applicant’' questions honestly, but don't provide personal information.
Require that the applicant give you a color copy of a photo ID, valid driver’s license and passport. Make sure the picture on these documents matches the person you are talking to and that the signature matches the person's signature.
Consider hiring a firm to conduct a background investigation of the applicant.
Finally, trust your instincts. If something about the applicant makes you uncomfortable, even if you can't quite put your finger on it, it's probably best to try someone else.